Having a consistent SEO strategy is key to continual growth – you should constantly be pushing out new content, updating your website, and targeting relevant keywords in order to compete. However, sometimes when companies get too comfortable with their SEO strategy, they stop seeing results. While it is important to remain consistent, it is also important to explore new mediums and tactics to keep your SEO from falling flat. As your business evolves, so should your search engine optimization strategy. Here are a few signs that it may be time to refresh your SEO strategy.
A Sudden Drop In Organic Traffic
A sharp decrease in organic traffic is one of the most telling signs that your SEO strategy may be falling flat. It is also one of the easiest to find. Simply log into Google Analytics to see a breakdown of how many visits your site received from organic traffic. You can easily compare this to previous months or years to see if the drop is significant enough to consider a problem.
If you see that your average weekly hits have dropped from 5,000 to 500, it could be a sign that you have a major problem on your hands in the form of a Google penalty. Barracuda has a great penalty tool to easily check for Google’s largest penalties panda and penguin. Once you sync your Google Analytics profile to the tool you can get layovers on all major penalty updates from Google that could have affected your website’s traffic.
Once you sync your Google Analytics profile to the tool you can get layovers on all major penalty updates from Google that could have affected your website’s traffic. Simply, view the graph and look for vertical lines that are followed by large search traffic drops. Match the color of the line to the penalty on the right column.
It only takes 5 minutes! Ideally, you should be able to quickly identify any penalties that have hit your website. If you are seeing any inexplicable sharp drops, you may want to revisit your SEO strategy.
Decline Or Static Growth Lasting More Than 2 Months
As I mentioned above, when you look at Google Analytics, you ideally should be seeing long-term growth. Both traffic to your site and goal completions should both be increasing if your current SEO strategy is working. Of course, the world of online search marketing is extremely unpredictable. So if you do see some slight stagnation or decline one month, don’t panic! It could easily be attributable to factors outside of your control.
First, consider your seasonality. Nearly every website is affected by seasonality across almost every industry. Think about it, it makes sense that there would be a decline in traffic to your site in February if you sell bathing suits i.e. bathing suits are out of season for the majority of the United States during this time. To make up during down seasons, it is good to pivot some of your SEO strategy. For the bathing suit industry, you may want to develop a content marketing strategy to target vacation-goers flying South for the winter.
Below is an example of SimilarWeb using BestBuy.com as an example and estimated traffic to the website. We can see their visits have been ramping down since the holiday season. When faced with a small decline in search traffic month-over-month check your seasonality out first.
Second, competitors may be taking away from your market share. SEMRush, SpyFu, and SimilarWeb are all great tools to collect organic search engine rankings and traffic data from your website and competitors. Simply add your URL to any of those data aggregator platforms and you will begin to see the winners and losers in organic search.
Last but not least, some Google penalties do not sink your ship overnight. When we see slow declines over a period of time (3%-15% month-over-month), there may be an issue Google has with your website from a quality perspective. I like to look at at three instances in particular.
The first being toxic inbound links. If you have low quality links that are not relevant to your industry they are holding you back and can count against you. These need to be cleaned up and removed.
Second is duplicate content, Google hates it! Duplicate content can cause redundancy in Google’s organic index i.e. search results and that is not a great user experience. Finding duplicate content and making it unique or 301 redirecting it to a similar page is your best bet to clean that up. Siteliner is a great way to identify duplicate content on your website.
Third, I would recommend you have at least 100+ words on each page. Google and other major search engines look for contextual relevance. So it isn’t helping anyone if your website pages don’t have any content at all. Google indexes the written word top to bottom and left to right, the same way we read. In order for Google to make sense of what is going on in a particular webpage you must have content. Thin content or content that is not specific and contextually relevant to what you are selling can can count against you. My advice is to think of the who, what, when, where, why, and how around each product or service you offer, then begin writing blog post after blog post!
Small declines in traffic can be bit harder to identify the exact issue, but the vast majority are caused by seasonality, decrease in market share, or small algorithmic declines due to site quality.
An Inexplicable Drop In Keyword Rankings
While rankings are not as important as they used to be, they are still a good indicator of the health of your SEO campaign. Google’s algorithm is tweaked nearly every single day, so if you wake up every morning and search for a certain keyword and you’ve dropped from position seven to ten, don’t freak out. But, if you used to consistently rank on page 1 for a certain keyword and all of a sudden you wind up on page 17, something may be off in your strategy.
Keep track of your rankings in Webmaster Console. Yes you can actually get your keyword rankings from Google! Webmaster Console will give you 90 days worth of keyword data and rankings. You should download your keyword ranking report every month and track changes in ranking losses.
Obviously, there are plenty of other signals that it may be time to refresh your SEO strategy. But these are the easiest to spot and usually the most revealing measures of the health of your SEO campaign. If you see any of these signs, something is off in your SEO or content strategy and is probably interfering with your search visibility.